Yes, you can plant wheat just about anywhere! Even though this crop is most often found in a giant field, you can scale it back and even plant wheat in your own backyard. Read on to find out when to plant wheat.
When to plant wheat: There are two times you can plant wheat. Spring is the most common time, and you can plant wheat seeds as soon as the ground becomes workable. You can then harvest in the fall. Alternatively, you can plant wheat in the fall and then harvest it in the early spring. You don’t want temperatures to be too cold in winter for this style of planting.
Planting Wheat in Different Climates
Wheat needs a chance to dry out when it is growing. If it doesn’t have this ability, it will simply turn to mush. There is too much moisture in the air in a tropical climate to support the growth of wheat.
A dry climate can support the growth of wheat. However, you will need to regularly irrigate your land if it is too dry.
Wheat might be able to grow in a temperate climate. However, the spring and fall are quite wet, and you might not get enough hours of sunshine.
A continental climate should be able to produce some wheat. Just be cautious as the summer might be shortened and it can take a while for the spring temperatures to warm up enough for adequate growth.
Unfortunately, a polar climate is not suitable for the growth of wheat.
Choosing Wheat Seeds
Even though there are two categories of common wheat, they are actually the same. The name merely implies when it is planted.
While you can grow a specific type of wheat for different uses, which we’ll discuss in a moment, the type of wheat you plant is usually determined by your climate and the space available.
There are also other varieties of wheat, including durum wheat and Spelt. These have the same growing conditions as common wheat.
With winter wheat, you usually have a higher protein content. This makes it more suitable for making bread and pasta.
Spring wheat does not have as high of protein content, and is better suited for lighter baking, such as cakes and pastries.
How to Plant Wheat Seeds
Unlike other plants, wheat takes a lot more planning. The goal of planting wheat is usually to harvest and either use or sell it, so you want to think about your end goal.
For every 1,000 square feet of wheat, you plant, you will get a yield of about 60 pounds. If you’re not sure how large that space is, it’s about the same size as the average backyard. So yes, you can get quite a bit of wheat if you transform your entire backyard.
For winter wheat, the best time to plant is about six weeks before the ground freezes. This will allow the roots to take hold.
As for spring wheat, you can plant early in the spring, as soon as you can work the soil. It will survive even if you have a later frost.
Even though you can plant spring wheat early in the year, it grows best when it starts to warm up. If you can, plant a few weeks before the temperatures normally hit 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
There are two types of wheat, which we’ve mentioned earlier: winter wheat and spring wheat. As you can imagine, winter wheat is planted in the fall, grows through the winter, and then harvested in the spring. Meanwhile, spring wheat is planted in the spring and harvested in the fall.
No matter what type of wheat you decide on, make sure it is in a location with plenty of sunshine. Full sun is a must to have strong, healthy wheat.
Prepare the soil
Now that you have your location, it’s time to get the soil ready. This takes a little while, so make sure you have plenty of time for the task.
Start by tilling your soil to a depth of 6 inches. This will break up any large clumps so the wheat can actually grow.
After your soil is broken up, take a rake and gently smooth the soil around. The goal is to have a nice, even surface.
To help your wheat get a head start now is the time to add compost. Work compost in as you are digging and raking so that it spreads around.
If you have a small space, you can get away with sowing seeds by hand but if you have a larger area, a seed spreader is better. It will ensure you get even coverage of your seeds.
While you won’t be placing individual seeds down, you do want about one seed for every square inch of soil. If you place too many seeds, they will compete for nutrients and soil, and will be a waste of your money.
Those with a large space should think of seeds in poundage. Check the seed packages to see what the recommended weight of seeds is for every 1,000 square feet of space.
After spreading your seeds out, you want to cover them with a thin layer of dirt. The easiest way to do this is by gently raking the seeds so that they go into the ground.
The goal is to have only 1 or 1.5 inches of soil on top of the seeds. If there is too much soil on top, the seeds won’t be able to germinate.
How to Water Wheat
Watering immediately after you plant your wheat seeds is important. If the seeds dry out, they won’t grow.
Aim to soak the area after planting. Not only will this help get the seeds growing, but it will allow the seeds to go a bit deeper into the soil to take root.
If you get rain in your area, you won’t need to water your wheat. However, if it doesn’t rain in a few days, you will need to add more water to your area.
Planting in the fall can actually mean more water is needed as the fall may be cool but still dry. Pay attention to the weather forecasts and regularly check the moisture level in your soil to see if it needs more water.
How to Grow Wheat
Regularly check for the growth of weeds in your wheat area. Weeds can take important nutrients meant for your wheat.
The one benefit of wheat is that it usually grows pretty close together, so there shouldn’t be an abundance of weeds. However, it’s a good idea to regularly check for weeds and remove them.
The biggest threat to a healthy harvest of wheat is the presence of pests. Slugs are a likely culprit, as are sawflies.
Check for slugs when your wheat is about 3 or 4 inches tall, as this is when they can strike. If you see holes in the wheat or slug trails, use slug bait to keep them away.
As for sawflies, you may need to spray with an insecticide to keep them away. The potency of your insecticide and whether it is organic or not will be a decision you need to make.
How to harvest wheat
Watch your wheat and take action once it changes color, from green to brown. When this happens, cut the stalks just above ground level.
Then, tie the stalks of wheat together to create a bundle and leave them in a cool, dry area for two weeks.
Once the wheat is fully dry, you can harvest the grains. Start by spreading out a large, clean tarp on the ground.
Then, place the dried stalks on the tarp. Then, take a clean wooden stick or mallet and use this to beat the wheat.
Inside the seed heads are the wheat grains that are edible. It is your goal to remove all of them.
During the beating process, which is also known as threshing, the grain will be released.
Finally, you can toss the entire parts of the wheat up in the air. The heavier pieces of grain will fall back to the tarp while the lighter shells will be carried away by the wind.
You might still have bits of wheat that you don’t want. Place everything in a bowl and then place a fan next to it.
The fan will blow the lighter parts of the wheat stocks away, leaving you with pure wheat grains.
How long does wheat take to grow?
Both spring and winter wheat takes about 90 to 100 days to grow. It’s better to leave it the whole 100 days to ensure it has enough exposure to sunshine.
Wheat is usually a large-scale crop but you can transform a small area like your backyard into a wheat field. Plant in either spring or fall, depending on the type you want, and then harvest 100 days later.